Owen Coyle comments on former Blackburn Rovers captain Grant Hanley's difficulties at Newcastle

Newcastle United's Grant Hanley celebrates scoring their sixth goal

There has been just one Championship start so far this season for Hanley, a stat which proves how strong this Newcastle side is.

Newcastle United's Grant Hanley celebrates scoring their sixth goal

Blackburn Rovers manager Owen Coyle says Grant Hanley’s omission by Newcastle United proves the strength of the squad at Rafael Benitez’s disposal, The Chronicle reports.

The Scotland international centre-half joined the relegated Magpies in the summer from Blackburn, having earned a reputation as one of the Championship’s most reliable defenders and inheriting the captain’s armband at Ewood Park.

However, the 25-year-old has made no discernible impact at St James’, with the excellent form of Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark restricting him to just 150 minutes of league action this season.

Furthermore, Chancel Mbemba, who was one of the few impressive performers for Newcastle as they slipped out of the Premier League last season, remains ahead of Hanley in the pecking order, leading Coyle to marvel at the quality and quantity of Benitez’s squad.

“It shows the strength of Newcastle’s squad that Grant, who we all know is a very good player and a really nice young man, has found himself on the bench and only started a few games,” Coyle, who’s Blackburn side take on the league leaders this weekend, said in quotes reported by The Chronicle.

Blackburn Rovers manager Owen Coyle

Benitez revealed earlier on Friday that Hanley would be missing for the clash against his former club with a shin injury, but the former Burnley and Bolton manager has backed the rugged defender to claw his way back into contention when fit.

“Football can change quickly,” Coyle added. “In Grant’s case, when you are out of the team you have to make sure you are working your socks off on the training ground so when the chance presents itself you are ready to take the chance and stay in the team, irrespective of what club you are at."

Cheltenham Town's Danny Wright (L) in action with Newcastle United's Grant Hanley

Many observers have argued that the current Newcastle crop is the strongest squad ever assembled in the second tier, with the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie all having proven themselves in the Premier League at one point or another.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch